Session 10: Michael Iwama

About Michael

Dr Michael Iwama

Professor & Chief Program Strategist

Occupational Therapy Doctorate Division, School of Medicine

Duke University 

I am a Canadian Occupational Therapist, born and raised in Japan. My practice specialty was in ‘return to work/vocational occupational therapy’. I returned to Japan to teach OT in 1995, and
discovered the cross-cultural challenges of OT theory and practice. My work as a teacher and academician has taken me to professorial appointments in 7 universities in 4 countries. I am
passionate about DEI and interested in the nexus between culture and theory construction.


Session Title

Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion; the impetus for the creation of the Kawa Model


Session Details

The Magnificent Promise of Occupational Therapy is – to enable people from all walks of life to
engage and participate in activities and processes of daily living that matter. Occupation -as the culture of contemporary (Western) occupational therapy has constructed it, and the conceptual models that support and explain it are cultural artefacts; they mirror the worldviews and shared experiences of the people that created them. How universal and inclusive is our idea of occupation? What happens when our core concepts and models cross cultural boundaries of meaning? T his is not simply an international concern, as these same patterns of oppression can be seen in our domestic practices – in our very own communities. Occupational therapy continues to advance and evolve worldwide. New conceptual models and frameworks like the Kawa Model are needed to progress OT from the Modern era to the Postmodern condition.

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